Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Weeping Savior

I stood with tears streaming down my face as the person acting Jesus wept, pleaded, and surrendered in the garden of Gethsemane during the Mark drama yesterday afternoon. When I took up this project three months ago, I knew it was going to be impactful. 
But yesterday when I looked out at the faces, the gutteral groans of Jesus echoing in the room, the tears flowing down many of those faces, I knew that I would never think of my Savior and his sacrifice for me the same again.
I took on many different roles including the woman with the alabaster jar, the blind Bartimaus, the wife of Jairus, and the Angel announcing the Risen Lord. I connected with each of them. And felt heavy with desperation, driven by love, and overflowing with thankfulness. 
This is part of the team starting rehearsal on Wednesday. The one learning Jesus is on one foot. His name is Mike.

The Mark drama is the gospel of Mark in 90 minutes. We will be presenting it twice with a new cast in the next week. Please pray for that cast. Pray for the person being Jesus that he will learn all of his parts, and that they will deeply stir his soul. Pray that each of the other cast members will draw close to Christ as they learn their parts. The drama is only rehearsed for two days before the day it’s presented. So it’s a very intense time with each other and with the Lord.

Pray for our director, visiting from the UK, who will be training me to direct the Mark drama. That she will have health and strength. We are praying that this can be a new way of bringing the good news to Nigeria in different languages. We pray that those coming will catch this vision as well.

The Kid’s Team

As we waited for the doors of the lunchroom of the retreat center to open, I asked Mariama, “Who said that Jesus is the son of God?” She said “the Pharisees.” I asked her when the Pharisees had said that because I wasn’t sure if she was right. She said, “Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. Then the Pharisees said, “only God can forgive sins.” So, Mommy, she explained to me, they were saying that Jesus was God.” I later asked Lydia and her friend Elizabeth the same question. They listed five different characters in Scripture that said Jesus was the son of God. I have lead the children’s retreat the last two years and am in awe of the amount of work that has gone into ministering to these sweet souls so loved by God.

I praise God for the team that he brought together to teach our children. They have two more days together. I pray our children will deeply understand who, where, why, and but what of Jesus being the Son of God. Please join us in prayer for this team and our children.

My sister-in-law, Kirstin, teaching the Memory verse scripture song. I’m so deeply blessed by their ministry to our children. So thankful for their sacrifice. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Victories and challenges

Twice a year, I get a chance to just sit back and listen as our staff give updates on victories and challenges they are facing as they progress in learning about languages, developing alphabets, training teachers, and translating the Bible. It is so moving to hear of breakthroughs mixed with serious challenges. Back in March and April, I jotted down notes of things I saw God doing. Thank God with me for these things!
Over the years I have had the opportunity to sit with many pastors and hear about the challenging choices they make. Often the people in their church come from several different languages, language communities, leading pastors and/or church leaders to perceive that a language of wider communication is the only available choice to bring unity for most church activities. Regrettably these can become instead languages of “wilder confusion” for many in the church—often the majority—especially women and children. I heard of many churches that have chosen to do the Bible reading in the newly translated Gospel of Luke in their language. In another language, people are requesting entire mother-tongue services. Praise God for this gift of understanding!

Sharing good things God has done

In many areas, we heard about challenges with kidnapping and insecurity. These realities make it difficult for people to meet together—a key part of effective work. In one of these places a special Bible study was prepared to go along with the recently translated book of Jonah. People had Bible studies from this book in January. I can only imagine the impact of God’s mercy on the wicked Ninevites will have had on these small groups. Praise God for his mercy and compassion!

Staff think and plan together
One of the sad experiences we have faced is that often in churches—the very place where we should expect God’s love—we hear statements of hate from one people group against another. How are these people supposed to know God’s love if not through us, his people? I have seen in one individual after another express openness to accept this wrong and a willingness to change. Thank God and pray for more love! At the same time, we hear of over 500 audio Bible study groups happening in one of these people groups that has received hate. Thank God for his Word that speaks!

Our experiences encourage each other
In different areas I have heard about challenges people have in reading because of complex tones or the subtle meanings of small words. I heard stories of progress in studying these complex issues. In many places I also heard about churches and government schools teaching children and adults to read in their own language. Praise God for this gift that should bring deeper learning and change to many areas of life!

We will get to meet again soon and share about the joys and struggles. Please pray that God will encourage our hearts and use this coming together to open doors in places where colleagues may feel “stuck”.

Go Away!

T here were children. Always so many children. Our children are a magnet for other children and so everywhere we go, they follow us giggling...